The Role of Mental Health in Modern Relationships

couple and mental health

We need to have a little chat about something important to us–and to you! That important thing is our mental health and its impact on modern relationships. This is a topic that has always been relevant and one that affects the lives of all of us–it’s just never gotten its due.

Finally, in an era when mental health is finally receiving the well-deserved spotlight it so desperately needs for individuals, we should also understand and acknowledge the part it plays in pairings. That’s right, it affects and our romantic relationships. And it plays a starring role!

mental health

Why Mental Health Matters in Relationships

Even though it was hush-hush or even taboo to speak on it in the past, talking about mental health now plays a starring role when it comes to having happy and healthy romantic relationships. But what makes it so important? Well, for starters, it affects how we think, feel, and act.

It is how we see our partners and ourselves. When that view is clouded or obscured by mental health issues, it can skew our perceptions and reactions, impacting every part of our lives–including romantic relationships.

But don’t just take our word for it–the symbiotic link between psychological well-being and romantic partnerships was the focus of a PubMed study, and the research showed that people’s mental health is much better off when they’re in committed relationships, such as happily married couples, rather than when they’re in less serious or casual relationships. Love is good for you!


The Communication Factor

All relationships, romantic or otherwise, depend on a solid foundation of open and effective communication, which is heavily influenced by one’s mental health.

When people are honest about their struggles with mental health, whether they’re dealing with everyday stress, long-term anxiety, or depression, it generates compassion and empathy. But there’s so much more to it than that! It’s also about making sure both people feel heard and understood by actively listening to them.

Difficulty communicating in relationships is a common symptom of mental illness, and partners might experience feeling an emotional distance and encounter unnecessary misunderstandings if one partner suffers from a mental health condition that makes it hard to express their feelings and needs.

take on challenges

Tackling Challenges as a Team

Although struggles with mental health are no doubt difficult, they can also be opportunities for personal growth. When couples work through any challenges together, they usually end up better off as a couple. It’s about learning to lean on one another when times are tough and to smile at even the seemingly small wins along the way.

Suicidal ideation, hopelessness, and anxiety are all exacerbated by toxic relationships and negative social interactions, especially with romantic partners. According to the Mental Health Foundation, positive interactions can minimize risks.

Here Is What the Statistics Say:

“Being happily married or in a stable relationship impacts positively on mental health. Research has found that high marital quality is associated with lower stress and less depression. However, single people have better mental health outcomes than unhappily married people.”

“Recent studies from Ireland and the USA have found that negative social interactions and relationships, especially with partners/spouses, increase the risk of depression, anxiety and suicidal thoughts. In contrast, positive interactions reduce the risk of these issues.”

self love

The Self-Care Balance

While we obviously should focus on our partners, we cannot forget about ourselves. Self-care isn’t selfish; it’s the opposite and it’s essential.

You are taking care of your mental health, which benefits you and your relationship. It’s akin to the oxygen mask analogy on airplanes–you need to secure yours before you can help anyone else!


Understanding and Patience: The Main Ingredients

Patience and understanding are vital in relationships, especially when dealing with mental health. Sometimes, it’s about giving your partner space; other times, it’s about being there, offering a comforting shoulder to lean on, or lending a listening ear. It’s a delicate balancing act and one that requires adaptation and understanding.


The Role of Therapy and Counseling

Reaching out for expert help, such as therapy or counseling, can have a tremendous benefit when it comes to mental health in modern relationships–it’s literally a game-changer. Professional mental health professionals arm you with the tools and help for those dealing with mental health challenges.

And it’s not just for individuals; couples counseling is an amazing way to get a relationship tune-up! It’s a safe space with an impartial party where you can talk about any problems you’re having, and get practical advice and solutions. It’s a neutral ground where you can let it all hang out and, in the end, it can make you stronger as a couple.


A Healthy Relationship is a Two-Way Street

Don’t forget that reciprocity is the secret to a fulfilling relationship–it’s a two-way street. It’s centered around give and take (in equal parts), and understanding and being understood. Prioritizing one’s mental health is essential on this path–when you support it, better, stronger relationships are able to not only grow but thrive.

In fact, a study conducted during the COVID-19 pandemic found that those with good relationships reported better mental health outcomes than those with unfulfilling, toxic, or no relationships. The study used various scales, such as the Quality of Marriage Index (QMI), to look at relationship quality and its correlation with mental health measures like depression, anxiety, stress, and even sleep quality.

Concluding Thoughts

So rather than looking at mental health issues as some sort of insurmountable hurdle, try looking at it from a different (and more optimistic) perspective–as an opportunity that can benefit your romantic relationship. It sounds trite, but when you are comfortable enough to talk about the hard stuff with your significant other, it really does make you connect on a whole other level.

And isn’t that the idea of a happy and healthy relationship? We think so, and the experts agree. So after all is said and done, opening up about and dealing with any mental health issues, big or small, is a chance to learn, grow, and communicate on a much more intimate level. The happiness and emotional well-being of a partnership hinge on it!